Depressed elderly found to have low levels of vitamin D
DEPRESSION in older people could be due to vitamin Ddeficiency. A new study in the ArchivesofGeneralPsychiatry has shown that people with low vitamin D levels have a higher risk of depression. The findings suggest that increasing vitamin D intake through foods such as fish and dairy products, or by taking supplements, could be an effective treatment for depression. Levels of vitamin D were measured in blood samples from 1282 adults aged 65 to 95. Of these, 26 had major depressive disorder, 169 had minor depression and 1087 were not depressed. Vitamin D levels were 14 per cent lower in those with major and minor depression compared with those without depression. Further research is needed to determine whether low vitamin D levels occur before or after the onset of depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2008;65:508-512 (Hoogendijk WJG, et al) WOMENwho quit smoking drastically reduce their risk of dying from heart disease or cancer in the following five years, according to new research in the Journalof theAmericanMedicalAssociation . Researchers studied 104,519 women between 1980 and 2004. In that time, 12,483 deaths occurred. Current smokers were nearly three times more likely to die during the study period than never-smokers. Compared with those who continued to smoke, women who quit smoking had a 13 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause in the five years after quitting. The risk of dying from lung cancer was reduced by 21 per cent in the five years after quitting, compared with women who continued to smoke. Twenty years after quitting, former smokers had the same risk of death as never-smokers. JAMA 2008;299:2037-2047 (Kenfield SA, et al) PAINKILLERS such as ibuprofen may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, concludes a study in the latest issue of Neurology . The study found that long-term use of such nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) was associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s, suggesting that these drugs could be used to prevent or delay the disease. A total of 49,349 men aged 55 and older who developed Alzheimer’s disease and 196,850 men without dementia were involved in the study. Those who used ibuprofen for more than five years were more than 40 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than non-users. And the longer ibuprofen was used, the lower the risk of developing dementia. The findings do not prove that NSAIDs prevent Alzheimer’s, say the authors, but they may provide clues to how the disease develops. Neurology 2008;70 (Vlad S, et al) PREGNANT women with high blood sugar levels — but not high enough to be considered diabetic — are at greater risk of birth complications than women with normal blood sugar levels. A study in the NewEnglandJournalofMedicine this week has found that a woman’s high blood sugar levels increase her risk of having an abnormally large baby and needing a caesarean delivery. The study also found that high blood sugar levels increase the risk of premature labour (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and injuries to the baby during birth. The seven-year study involved 23,316 pregnant women whose blood sugar levels were tested between weeks 24 and 32 of pregnancy. The authors claim that all pregnant women should have their blood sugar levels monitored throughout pregnancy to help prevent birth complications. New Engl J Med 2008;358:1991-2002 (Metzger BE, et al)
ANTI-DEPRESSANTS may help to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in young people, concludes a new study in the JournalofPediatrics . The study involved 33 patients with IBS aged 12 to 18. They were randomly assigned to receive either the antidepressant amitriptyline or an inactive placebo for eight weeks. Their IBS symptoms — including abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation — and quality-of-life were assessed before the treatment period, and then at two, six, 10 and 13 weeks. Amitriptyline significantly improved overall quality-of-life measurements compared to the placebo, and also reduced abdominal pain and diarrhoea. The dose of amitriptyline used for IBS treatment is much lower than that used to treat depression, say the authors, and should be offered to adolescents with IBS as it is to adults. J Pediatr 2008;152:685-689 (Bahar RJ, et al) Want to know more? Items are referenced where possible. A reference such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source article was published on pages 18-25 in volume number 35 of the publication, in 2007. A doi number or website address is used for research published on a journal’s website.
Smoking: Women who quit lessen the five-year risk of death by cancer or heart attack